Vicar of Dibley’s John Bluthal dies, aged 89

Image caption

John Bluthal played Frank Pickle in the Vicar of Dibley

John Bluthal, who was best known for playing Frank Pickle in the Vicar of Dibley, has died at the age of 89.

The actor also appeared in a number of Carry On and Pink Panther films, in a career spanning over 60 years.

His co-star, Dawn French, led the tributes to Bluthal, who passed away on Thursday in New South Wales, Australia.

She posted on Twitter: “Tons of happy laughs remembered today. Cheeky, naughty, hilarious. Bye darlin Bluey.”

Confirming news of his death, talent agency The Artists Partnership also tweeted, saying: “We’re sad to announce our wonderful client John Bluthal has passed away.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this time. John provided us all with years of laughter and entertainment. We will miss John hugely.”

Their post was accompanied by an image of Bluthal from the show, in which he played, Pickle, the secretary for the parish council.

Image caption

(L-R) John Bluthal as Frank Pickle, Roger Lloyd Pack as Owen Newitt, Dawn French as Geraldine Grainger, the vicar, Gary Waldhorn as David Horton, Emma Chambers as Alice Tinker, James Fleet as Hugo Horton, and Trevor Peacock as Jim Trott in the 1996 Vicar of Dibley Christmas special

Bluthal was born in Poland in 1929 and emigrated to Australia with his family in 1938, before moving to the UK permanently to pursue acting in 1960.

Much of his early work was in the theatre, where he appeared in Oliver! in the West End and a Peter Hall production of Antony and Cleopatra – with Judi Dench and Anthony Hopkins.

He also appeared in TV programmes ‘Allo ‘Allo!, Minder and Last of the Summer Wine, along with a number of films including three Carry On films and The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and Help!

More recently he appeared in 2016’s Coen Brothers’ film Hail, Caesar! playing Professor Marcuse opposite George Clooney.

His final appearance was earlier this year in his daughter Lisa Bluthal’s short film, By Any Other Name – a comedy about a woman dealing with her father’s Alzheimer’s disease.

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